Scriptures and sacred texts are valuable means of fostering spiritual growth as they throw light on the atma swarupa.

The unfolding of the sublime view that sees God in every facet of creation encompassing universal love from the initial microscopic perception of “all are mine and my aspect” is the essence of the teachings of the sastras.

While delving into this aspect during a discourse, Swami Paramasukhananda pointed to the discussion between Yagnyavalkya and Maitreyi cited in the Upanishads. The sage, deciding to renounce worldly life and be involved in contemplation, wishes to distribute his material possessions to his wives Maitreyi and Katyayani. Maitreyi, with her interest in the higher aspects of philosophy, asks him if wealth can lead her to immortality.

On being told this can never happen, she opts to receive some of the sage’s wisdom instead of his material assets. Pleased with her yearning to seek realisation, Yagnyavalkya begins a discourse on the subtle knowledge of the atman. “The love that jivatmas show for people and objects is to be attributed to the pleasure derived by the Self. It is the satisfaction of the Self that is the basis of all bonds. It is not for the sake of the husband that he is loved by the wife, but it is for the sake of her own Self that he is loved. It is the love for the Self that always dominates. Hence, this Self (atman) which alone is worthy of realisation is to be seen, heard of and meditated upon.”

Yagnyavalkya goes on to point out that only ignorance causes us to identify ourselves with the body, mind and senses and imagine our individual existence. When that identification vanishes, so does our individual existence. With enlightenment that sees the Self as distinct from the created world, even as on waking from a dream filled with intense experiences, the insubstantial nature of the apparent reality becomes obvious. Yagnyavalkya’s expositions, leading Maitreyi through the higher levels of spiritual understanding, provide guidance to come out of the darkness of ignorance and go towards the light of knowledge as enunciated by the sastras.

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